When starting out on a raw food diet, one of the most critical factors in achieving success is to ensure you consume enough calories. I tell this to every coaching client I talk to and every newcomer I see at Arnold’s Way, a raw food café in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.
This lesson is so important because calories represent a whole new ball game on a raw food diet. If you’re used to eating water-starved meals of cooked foods, your stomach will need time to expand to eat a meal of several water-rich bananas or mangos, for example, containing the same number of calories. This is where ideas of continuing to eat the same number of meals in a day—for most, it’s three and may include a small snack or two—might need to be reconsidered, at least in the short-term future, if you are to ensure you get enough fruit fuel. Fruit, after all, is the source of the overwhelming bulk of calories on a healthful raw food diet.
In the earliest days of my being on a wholly low-fat raw food diet, in February 2012, I ate five meals a day. Because I had a desk job, my level of physical activity was fairly regimented, and my caloric needs barely changed day to day. I generally ate fruit or fruit-and-greens meals in the form of monomeals (generally grapes or watermelon), fruit smoothies and green smoothies at 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and 6 or 7 p.m., the latter time dictated by whether I had an evening workout in addition to my morning Egoscue Method routine. Most days, I followed my dinner fruit meal with a salad that was fairly low in calories.
Come early 2013, I doubled the amount of overt fat I used in preparing salad dressings, taking my overall fat percentage to 10 percent of my total calories. Quickly, my need for a small fruit dinner before having a salad, now much greater in calories, disappeared.
My meal frequency remained the same—four meals a day—until July 2015, when I enjoyed eating almost exclusively watermelon during my first extended break, of just more than two weeks, from any work in four years. How nice it is to rest! My caloric needs nosedived from my standard 4,000 a day to as low as 2,500 some days. My body required fewer calories because I wasn’t working, and my body also cleansed, thanks to watermelon. Watermelon, you see, is the fruit that enables our bodies to flush out toxins the most because it requires so little energy to be spent on digestion. It is, quite simply, a magical fruit.
What also came out of this watermelon feast is another change in meal frequency. On the first day of this watermelon cleanse, the number of meals I consumed took a step down from four to three, where it’s remained ever since. I had long wanted to get to three meals a day because it makes life more convenient and enables me to play in a game of touch football or wiffle ball with my niece and nephews without having to worry about a couple of bunches of bananas bouncing around in my belly.
I’ve heard some longtime raw vegans say they can consume all their day’s calories in just two meals a day, but most of them admit having three meals is more manageable. At least one raw fooder says he can eat all his daily calories in just a single meal but says two meals a day works better for him.
I bring up the history of my meal frequency on a raw food diet to impress upon fledgling raw fooders that, in the early going, it’s not important to stick to eating the so-called standard three meals a day. You might need four or even five meals, depending on your caloric needs, which you’ll have to feel out over time. You might also find your caloric needs increasing on a fruit-based diet. I sure did! 🙂
Fuel up with the sweetest food on earth and go Fruit-Powered!